(New Album Review) 7FO- Water Falls Into A Blank

Among a slew of extra-fine recent experimental electronic releases from RVNG International courtesy of Suzanne Cianni and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Visible Cloaks and Dip in the Pool, and Antenna (the duo of Sasha Renkas and Eline Makker), Water Falls Into a Blank, a collection of dubby, ambient electronica by 7FO (Osakan musician N. Kawata), particularly stands out; this one seriously ought not to be overlooked!

The dub soundscapes herein are very textural, but with a playful feel to them, with trilling synths flickering in and out of the mix like a clamoring rainforest orchestra on tracks like “Botanical Dub”, the album’s fantastic opener.  It’s an eco-expedition of alternately wonky and effulgent delights– I remember loving James Marsh’s Bizarre Birds & Beasts art book as a kid, and for some reason that kind of imagery is where my brain went while I took this in.

An electronic rendition of reggae phrasing from a fascinated cultural outsider often turns out as something both cerebral and mischievous, after all. The lumbering, grumbling “Lake Bottom” recalls Can and Moebius and Plank’s intoxicated mad-scientist takes on Caribbean rhythms.  And what’s more, Kawata re-interprets some scenes more familiar to his native culture’s aesthetic through this lens on “Rice Field of the Diorama” and “Forest of Old Cloth” to wry effect, too. You get an overall sense that Kawata’s taste in dub maybe leans towards very spacey yet nonetheless very buoyant cuts like the Crystalites’ “Blacula Version” or Rupie Edwards All-Stars’ “Buckshot Dub”, along with Lee Perry’s psychedelia. What makes this album so disarmingly likeable is the way that it returns to the experimental spirit of dub through such unlikely means– some guitar is in there, but it’s almost all chirping, fluid synth architecture. Water Falls into a Blank is absolutely one of my favorite electronic releases of the year, and most definitely worth kicking back and donning the deep-listening ears.

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